Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cats in Art: Still Life With Game and Lobster (de Vos)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  

Today and the next couple weeks I'll feature some art from Paul de Vos.

Image credit The State Hermitage MuseumStill Life With Game and Lobster, Pauwel (Paul) de Vos, ca 1610, oil on canvas, 47" x 71", held by The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

And the obligatory close-up of the scairdy (is that spelled right?) cat in the center foreground:

And here's a Gotcha, noted by yours truly.  I now consider myself an amateur art historian based upon me doing my weekly Cats in Art post for over 6 years now.  

Here's the error: Bugler's book attributes this image to the Flemish artist Frans Snyders, which is a mistake. A diligent search of the web confirms the painter as Pauwel (Paul) de Vos.  While Frans Snyders did do many still life paintings, including one long-windedly entitled Still Life with Game Suspended on Hooks, a Lobster on a Porcelain Plate and a Basket of Grapes, Apples, Plums and Other Fruit on a Partly Draped Table with Two Monkeys (link is here) he did not paint the image with the kitty above.  It was definitely painted by Paul de Vos...although I came to find out that de Vos and Snyders were brothers-in-law!  Perhaps they even painted together in the same studio.

I can only assume that when Bulger assembled the art for her book, the presence of the words "game" and "lobster" in Snyders' title above threw her off.

Just check out this page (you'll need to scroll down to the "S" paintings) for nearly a score of other Snyders paintings beginning with the words "Still Life...." in the title and note the similarities.  This must have been one of the schools of painting during the time when both artists were active in the 1600s.

Back to the painting itself.  Bugler tells us: 
This tempting array of game and fish is enough to whet the appetite of any domestic animal.  The dog and cat have made their stealthy advances on the display, but have encountered each other, and it looks as the though the dog is about to gain the upper hand in the confrontation.

My take?  Yes, the dog has this case.  But in the long run, of course cats rule!  Now that that's out of the way, regarding this image, the poor kitty has been psyched out, big time.  But if they would agree to peaceful co-existence, there's plenty of food for everyone.  Just share, you guys.

Also, de Vos has well captured the essence of scared catness.  He must have had kitties to have painted this one so well: the ears, the eyes, the tail, the overall posture.

And another gem from the Hermitage web page, regarding the provenance of this painting:

Acquisition date: Transferred to the Hermitage from the collection of Catherine the Great in 1772

Is that cool, or what?  Catherine the Great actually owned this de Vos painting.  It was in her house.  She saw it, hopefully admired it, and safely passed it along to posterity.  Whatever else one might stay about CTG, this was a good thing!

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

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